FinTech Hive at DIFC, a start-up accelerator in Dubai’s financial free zone the Dubai International Financial Centre, has invited applications for its 2018 programme starting May 20, it said on Saturday.
The programme was launched last year in partnership with Accenture, the New York-listed technology firm, and is one of the first fintech accelerators in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.
“As fintech continues to be a game-changer for the financial services industry, nurturing innovative talent is a fundamental priority because of the immense benefits it brings to the economy and society,” said Raja Al Mazrouei, FinTech Hive’s executive vice-president.
FinTech Hive runs a 12-week mentorship and networking programme under which partner financial institutions including the UAE’s Mashreq Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank, will advise, collaborate and partner with fintech startups.
This year, the programme has expanded its scope to include insure-tech (insurance technology), reg-tech (regulatory technology) and Islamic finance start-ups following recent growth in these sectors. The programme seeks to bridge the gap between tech entrepreneurs and established financial industry corporates in line with the Dubai Plan 2021, which aims to increase the contribution of small to medium sized businesses to 45 per cent of the emirate’s GDP by 2021, from 40 per cent now.
To grow the number of small businesses in the UAE, the government and other institutions are increasingly setting up start-up accelerators to help entrepreneurs gain market exposure and grow more rapidly.
FinTech Hive is looking for businesses with a well-defined prototype, or service implemented in at least one market and which wants to expand into the region. Initial selection of programme participants will be based on maturity, life stage, market traction and financing profiles. Applications close on June 24.
New insurance partners for 2018 include AIG, Takaful Emarat and Zurich Insurance Company. Other financial institutions that have partnered with FinTech Hive this year include First Abu Dhabi Bank, Arab Bank and Noor Bank, which join first-round partners Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Citi, Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, Standard Chartered, UAE Exchange and Visa, as well as the Dubai Islamic Economic Development Centre.
This year’s programme starts on September 4 and culminates at an Investor Day later in the year, when up to 10 participants will present their products or services to an audience of venture capitalists and financial industry executives.